Sunday, February 23, 2014

Frog Porridge

Dinner in Singapore with our good friend Caslin is always and adventure and this night was no exception. She informed us we were being joined by some of her friends for frog porridge.

We left the menu decisions to the locals. They always know best.

The night was filled with wonderful aromas and delicious flavors. But the girls were right. The frog porridge was the best. The frog is in a savory sauce with your choice of heat. It is served over rice porridge and is absolutely heavenly. We ended up ordering three clay pots full.

Of course we couldn't let the meal be one dimensional so we ordered more of the dishes on offer. I think we may have gotten a bit carried away.

The ladies had one last thing for me to experience - Ken was not game for it. We went to see the real stars of the night and proof positive that the meal was fresh.


From Malaysia we traveled to Singapore for a conference Ken was attending. So while he had work to do, I got to play. 

Sentosa is a resort island just off the coast of Singapore. It is accessible by car, monorail and my personal favorite - cable car. On the island there are golf courses, beaches, hotels, water parks, rides, condos, attractions, nature walks and even a Universal Theme Park.

In December of 2012, a new aquarium was opened on Sentosa Island. It features the largest aquarium viewing window in the world. And as you can tell from this blog, I love aquariums. That was what drew me to Sentosa, but everything about it was memorable.

I arrived at the cable car terminus early in the morning. The views from the top were beautiful.

The ride started in this lush oasis and traveled down across the city and literally through a building.

Approaching the island you can see the wide array of activities and interesting places to explore.

That last shot of what looks like shacks is actually a reproduction of an old Singaporean fishing village and it is where the nightly fireworks are set off.

There was a small welcoming committee upon alighting from the cable car.

While on the cable car there was one building passing under that had a very unique roof. It looked like the bottom of a boat.

That should have been my first clue. A short while after arriving I found myself under that boat bottom on my way to see some amazing marine life.

Once inside I realized this was much more than an aquarium - it was an experience. The entry level is a museum that tells the story of Silk Route trading from early days. Individual exhibits feature the goods traded in each of the ports along the route. Later the aquariums also featured the marine life in each of these ports.

Then the ships were featured.

What followed was the most fascinating entry into and exhibit I have ever witnessed. The adventure starts on the Guangzhou wharf between 618 and 907 AD. A movie begins and sets up a story about a seaman tasked to deliver a wedding gift from the Emperor. 

From there another theatre/ship is entered and a 4-D movie recreates the voyage. A typhoon strikes and the ship sinks. Let's just say that at times I was holding my breath and expecting to drown. Upon exiting the theatre the first tank contains the wreck of the ship that just sunk.

It was a truly unique entrance.

What followed was an amazing underwater tour of Singapore and all of the ports along the Silk Route. For fear of being boring, I'll just post some of the best and most interesting specimens.

The eel and the shark were quite impressive as was the main viewing window which is the largest in the world.

After leaving the aquarium I spent some more time enjoying all Sentosa has to offer. Although with my limited amount of time I saw a minuscule segment of what was on offer. Among the many temptations I succumbed to the charms of a snake handler. He even let me join the act.

After that encounter it was time to head back to reality. I only hope I can someday get to spend more time visiting Sentosa.

Malacca, Malaysia

Way too long a break between posts, but I hope to finish up our Hong Kong Adventure shortly. Then look for the next one to start - Patti & Ken's European Adventure. More on that later.

Starting our farewell tour before leaving Hong Kong, we joined our friend May Lene in Kuala Lumpur and took a short trip to Malacca. This is one of the oldest cities in Malaysia and a significant port on the Silk Route of old.

We took some time to visit the Maritime Museum which features a replica of the original trade ships that filled the waters many years ago.

Following our museum visit we wandered along the canal soaking up the history.

We then crossed the canal and spent some time in a quaint shopping area where we had a lunch featuring a local specialty - chicken balls. They are actually balls of rice with bits of chicken mixed through.

Take note of the way coconut juice is served. I love that drink.

It always amazes me how familiar things pop up in the most unexpected places.

A popular mode of transportation around the city is the pedi cab. What makes the ones in Malacca so special is the way they are decorated.

And after a long day of pedaling the drivers occasionally take a little snooze.

Off on our wandering again, we headed toward the ruins of St. Paul's Church. It is one of the oldest Western structures in Malacca.

The slabs along the walls are grave markers which have survived. Many of them are written in multiple languages and tell a story of the deceased.

Just down the hill from St. Paul's are the remains of Fomosa, the ancient fortress built is 1511.

Before leaving the area we saw a most interesting activity. On an open plaza you could rent these nearly life sized horses that were propelled by the rider's body movements. It looked like lots of fun.

Before returning to the hotel to get ready for dinner, we went back to the shopping area to browse through one of my favorite types of establishments - a fabric store.

Needless to say, I bought some.

Dinner was hosted by May Lene's sister Elin, her husband and the family. Elin was our travel companion in Beijing and it was wonderful to see her again and to meet her sons. We also were fortunate enough to meet May Lene's mom and an exchange student from Africa studying in Malacca. The meal was wonderful and featured many courses with the chili crab as the featured item. There was even a wonderfully slushy dessert.

We only had one day to explore before heading off the next morning to Singapore, but it was a wonderful chance to meet up with old friends before traveling on.